“Anguish emerges from craving for life to be other than it is. It is the symptom of flight from birth and death, from the pulse of the present.”
Stephen Batchelor, Buddhism Without Beliefs
Mr. Batchelor’s explanation seems to sum it all up quite simply; we crave for “life to be other than it is.” If we look at our lives we can see how this is the case. We have the greatest discomfort when we are struggling against life as it is. We don’t want to accept that everything is impermanent. We feel alone and separate from everyone and everything. We believe that life is supposed to be good and easy all the time. We think we are being victimized and that our actions have nothing to do with the way our lives are today. We allow the Kleshas to run our lives unchecked and unnoticed. We struggle against life and try over and over to make it the way we want it to be so we can keep it that way once it is accomplished. This is the truth of suffering and its cause.
One of the most challenging things we do in life is to live it just as it is, without what I think of as “add-ons.” “Add-on” are the things we make up about our life, or the current situation, or circumstance. Again, bring awareness to your thoughts in meditation. See where you change reality to fit what would be more comfortable – see where you “add-on.” Just be aware.